Full camp almost here
Another sunny but windy day at the MMW Sarasota bureau. Activity is ramping up as the full squad reports Tuesday with a first full workout set for 11 am. But a majority of position players are already here and many took batting practice inside the stadium. Brandon Phillips reported on Monday.
Among those not seen yet are Edwin Encarnacion and Alex Gonzalez. Catcher Humberto Cota is still having visa issues. Encarnacion will have a good excuse to not be here since Tuesday is his arbitration hearing date. Assistant GM Bob Miller will lead the Reds case if the hearing happens and is already in Arizona, where it will take place. Encarnacion is seeking $3.7 million while the club offered $2.55 million.
The Reds have not had an arbitration case since beating pitcher Chris Reitsma in 2004.
One hundred steals?: I met new free agent acquisition Willy Taveras for the first time. Taveras had a down offensive year last season with Colorado and still stole 68 bases. He thinks that if he can get his on-base percentage up while playing everyday — he could swipe 100.
“To go over 100, if you’re on base percentage is .350, that can be possible. It can happen,” Taveras said.
Last season, Taveras had a .251 average and .308 on base percentage. He plans on bunting more and keeping infielders on their toes.
New bat rules: Fans might notice there will be fewer more all-black bats used in the Majors this season. The players are just finding that out. Phillips, who has always used black maple bats, opened a new shipment of bats and was stunned when he saw a two-tone white and black model. In response to some dangerous incidents with broken maple bats — new Major League safety standards says all maple and birch bats “must have a natural or clear finish.” Bats made from ash can be all black.
“I just want all white,” Phillips told equipment manager Rick Stowe. “I can’t deal with two-tone.”